Frank Martin is in his third season with the South Carolina Gamecocks, but the graduation of Brenton Williams, a rather weak recruiting 2014 class and the loss of promising freshmen Jaylen Shaw and Desmond Ringer has the outlook for this season fairly dim.
However, Sindarius Thornwell is one of the most talented young players in the country, and the Latvian duo of Laimonas Chatkevicius and Mindaugas Kacinas should have this team in good shape moving forward. This offense will belong to Thornwell and Tyrone Johnson, who should be able to produce a few massive games for the Gamecocks.
Last season, the defense and offense were both ranked out of the top 150 teams, so any improvement will be good improvement. This team has the physical ability to overachieve as they showed last season with a one-point loss to the Baylor Bears and a win over the Kentucky Wildcats, but until they prove that they can win big games consistently, it’s hard to pin down how good this team actually is.
Unfortunately, their difficult schedule won’t help at all. In non-conference play, the Gamecocks face Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Clemson, who should all be better teams. On top of these tough matchups, South Carolina faces the top five teams in the SEC in a total of eight different games.
The difficult schedule as well as the overwhelming need for massive improvement means that South Carolina is likely to fall towards the bottom of the SEC. Unless this team can get some big-name recruits or transfers sometime very soon, expect this football school to remain anchored to the bottom five or so of the conference for the next few seasons.